Sixteen months into lockdowns, governments continue to restrict the Charter right of Canadians to leave and re-enter their own country freely, as well as the right to travel freely within what is supposed to be one country.
Governments have also restricted our basic Charter freedoms of expression, association, peaceful assembly, religion and conscience. Meanwhile, our economy lies in ruins, while hundreds of billions of dollars of new public debt are racked up, imposing a crushing burden of repayment on our children and grandchildren.
What started out as a reasonable, precautionary response to an unknown virus has turned into a fanatical ideology that threatens basic rights and freedoms, while remaining impervious to facts and reason.
A political ideology is a belief system that exalts—fervently—one single aim over everything else, while disregarding the terrible costs of forging blindly ahead.
Ideologues refuse to consider the fullness of reality, its complexity, and its interconnectedness. An ideology identifies one villain, puts forward one explanation for injustice, and uses coercive state power to pursue one goal and to crush anyone who dissents from the official narrative.
The ideology of communism explained reality as a class struggle between good, oppressed workers and evil oppressive capitalists. Nothing was allowed to stand in the way of eliminating the capitalists and building a workers' paradise. In pursuit of this singular goal, all basic individual freedoms were eliminated as the likes of Lenin, Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot murdered tens of millions of innocent people. The Ukrainian kulaks (successful peasant farmers) were starved to death by Stalin in the 1930s because they had been identified as ideological "class enemies."
Nazism explained reality as a racial struggle between Aryans and non-Aryans (Jews especially) and promised a glorious future for Germany under a new thousand-year Reich. Germans allowed themselves to be guided and managed like sheep while the state trampled basic human liberties, eroded notions of human dignity, increased its persecution of the Jews to the point of killing millions, and prepared the nation for war.
The "Heil Hitler" salute spread quickly as Germans attempted to avoid the label of dissident. Within two years of Hitler's rise to power, special courts were established to punish those who refused to salute the Fuhrer. Pastor Paul Schneider refused to salute, saying that "you can only receive salvation (Heil) from the Lord and not from a human being." He was eventually executed at Buchenwald for insisting on practicing his faith and leading his congregation in opposition to the Nazi regime.
Today's social justice warriors are equally ideological. They explain reality as a never-ending power struggle between groups: women vs. men, whites vs. non-whites, gays vs. straights, rich vs. poor, etc. The progressive Left dismisses the common-sense fact that much of the injustice and unhappiness in the world is caused by individuals mistreating other individuals. Indeed, ladies mistreat other women, guys oppress other men, gays hurt other gays, and people of all skin colours perpetrate injustice on members of their own racial and ethnic groups. But these nuanced facts about reality are irrelevant to the ideology, because facts don't fit its narrative of group oppression and group warfare.
And now we have the ideology of Covidism, whereby everything must give way to the sole objective of stopping the spread of a single virus (and its variants). Nothing else matters: not our mental and emotional health, which depends on connecting in person with friends, family members, fellow believers at a house of worship; not the strength of our immune system, which depends on good mental health, open gyms and stores, watching and playing team sports, and avoiding a continual state of fear and anxiety; not our economic prosperity, which is necessary to providing the wealth needed to look after widows, orphans, and other vulnerable members of society; not our essential need for hugs and other wholesome human touch; not a functional medical system that responds equitably to the needs of all patients; not our Charter rights and freedoms, or the amazing benefits of living in a free society; and not the rule of law, which serves to protect citizens from government overreach.
Nothing matters on Covidism except the singular and futile pursuit of one goal: vanquishing one virus.
Ideologies also contain a kernel of truth. Workers have been oppressed; the 1919 Treaty of Versailles was unfair to Germany; racism and sexism are wrong. But ideologies elevate one kernel of truth to the status of being the only truth that matters, and the truth that must govern everything else.
Covidism's kernel of truth is that people should make reasonable efforts to protect seniors and other vulnerable individuals from a virus that will shorten their lives. Covidism perverts and corrupts this truth by imposing unscientific measures that destroy our economy, shred the fabric of civil society, harm our mental and physical health, and drive people into unemployment, poverty, depression, anxiety and despair. Politicians disregard disturbing facts by claiming repeatedly and loudly that lockdowns save lives; yet they do not produce actual evidence to back up their claim.
Like other ideologies, Covidism thrives on fear and depends on lies. Covidism is based on Dr. Neil Ferguson's March 2020 prediction that Covid would be as deadly as the Spanish Flu of 1918, which killed 50 million people (when world population was barely a quarter of what it is today). The media and politicians never cease to remind us, daily if not hourly, that we should live in fear. Yet the government's own data and statistics tell us that this virus is like the Asian Flu of 1957 and the Hong Kong Flu of 1968, not the Spanish Flu of 1918.
Canadians under 70 have a higher chance of dying in a car accident than they do of dying of Covid. The chance of a child dying of Covid is the same as being hit by lightning. Covid has a 99.77 percent survival rate, and is harmless to 90 percent of people. But ideology hates common sense, so we allow lockdowns to our entire society rather than focusing our efforts sensibly on protecting truly vulnerable individuals, particularly seniors in nursing homes, from this bad annual flu.
Covidism is threatened by facts, so politicians like Alberta Premier Jason Kenney describe lockdown opponents as "unhinged conspiracy theorists." Politicians of all stripes, as well as the police, condone massive rallies for Palestine, while throwing pastors in jail for exercising their God-given Charter freedoms.
Ideologies eventually collapse under the weight of their own contradictions, lies and lack of science. Unfortunately, ideologies inflict incalculable damage on millions of people while coercive state power is in their service. But there is hope: truth eventually prevails over falsehood. For the sake of Canada and the entire world, let's hope that Covidism's reign ends soon.
Lawyer John Carpay is president of the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms which represents Canadians challenging lockdowns in courts across Canada.